By Paul Kirby
(BBC) – Leaked US documents have revealed that disagreements in Russia’s security apparatus led to the defence ministry being accused of undercounting casualties of the war in Ukraine.
Russia has said very little publicly about the scale of its war deaths.
But the files show the FSB security service claimed officials were not counting deaths of the Russian National Guard, Wagner mercenaries and others.
Russia has already warned the leaks may be fake, deliberately dumped by the US.
However, the detail corroborates what was already widely known: that Russia’s military and security groups have had frequent disagreements about the handling of the war in Ukraine and that Russia has avoided publicising the numbers of dead and wounded.
The FSB’s reported calculation of almost 110,000 casualties by February is still far lower than numbers this week in previously leaked US documents, which estimated Russian losses at between 189,500 and 223,000 casualties, with 35,500-43,000 men killed in action.
Russia’s most recent official figure dates back to September last year, when the deaths of 5,937 servicemen were confirmed.
The same document says under-reporting of casualties within the system highlights the military’s “continuing reluctance” to convey bad news up the chain of command.
Commentators have often suggested that President Vladimir Putin has been shielded from the extent of Russia’s losses on the battlefield, and this assessment appears to be borne out by these communications intercepts, labelled “SI” or Special Intelligence.